We're playing in the mountains today!
Yesterday, we crossed Cogmanskloof Pass over the Langeberg Mountains to end up in Montagu. The relatively thin mountain range extends across the Western Cape and we follow it eastwards, searching for the next opportunity where we can cross over it once again.
Glancing over at our right, the Langeberg Mountains peek up above the orchards in the area
Sixty kms east of Montagu, right before the town of Barrydale, we reach a turnoff that heads south back over the Langberg Mountains.
This road is called Tradouws Pass, it bisects two nature reserves, Zuurberg to the west and Boosmansbos to the east.
Boosmansbos. I love sounding out the Afrikaans names written on the signs as we ride by, though I'm probably butchering the pronounciation. It's only much later that I can actually look up what it means.
Boosmansbos means "Angry Man's Bush" or "Angry Man's Forest", named after a hermit that used to live up in the mountains selling wild honey that he cultivated. He also scared away people who tried to disturb his beehives. Haha!
Some of these Afrikaans names make more sense when you sound them out, just like some German words. Zuurberg translates to Sour Mountain. I can see that.
Sweet curves and Nice-Nah scenery, not Zuur at all!
A short while later, we end up on the south side of the Langeberg Mountains. What a fun road! We want to do more!
So... it's a bit embarrassing to say this, but...
We're turning around and heading back to Cape Town.
Throughout our travels, Neda and I have taken turns planning the route. Whose responsibility it currently falls to is roughly determined by who has the most ties to the country we're riding in. Since my mom was born here, that put me in charge of plotting our route.
I found this great website called Mountain Passes of South Africa. Prior to coming here, we had no idea this country was so mountainous. Just like how surprised we were when we found out about Alaska's mountains as well. This makes it such an ideal place for motorcycle riding!
At this point we could continue heading further east, but the website listed a whole bunch of other passes that we were going to miss in the Cape Town area. So we decided to turn back and do more twisty roads using the website as a rough guide!
Yep, we are afflicted with a very acute case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)! This is the #1 reason why we've traveled so slow and in such a haphazard fashion over the last few years! We just want to see everything!
Also we've been off the bikes for a couple of months now, and we just want to ride!!!
Heading south-west, I've noticed we are passing a lot more vineyards. We're re-entering the region known as the Cape Winelands.
Cape baboons run across the road, keeping a wary eye on us as we slow down to snap some pictures
Floorshoogte Pass - how do you even pronounce this?
At the end of Floorshoogte Pass, we hit our first gravel road, time to air down! (or pumping up after as this picture is showing :)
We're running a few maps on our GPSes. The Zumo I bought came installed with Garmin maps for South Africa. In addition, we've also installed the latest Open Streetmaps (OSM) for this region. And on top of this, we bought a map called Tracks4Africa, it is phenomenal! It's got a lot more detail for all the off-road tracks that are dual-sport and 4x4 specific. It distinguishes which tracks are tar roads and which are gravel and even has the degree of difficulty annotated - some tracks are 4x4 only!
Wonder if those roads are okay for 2x1 vehicles? We'll find out!
Good thing we also picked up this air compressor to replace the one that was stolen in Croatia
The gravel road is well packed, didn't need to air down our tires at all.
If all the roads are this well-maintained, South Africa should be smooth sailing!
Dust clouds swirl around Theewaterskloof Dam. Water levels have become so low during this drought!
This is our favorite road of the day, Franschhoek Pass!
Amazing views, awesome tarmac and curves! Lots of curves!
The pace has been relatively chill the last couple of days. We're easing into new roads, new bikes, in a new country. I shadow Neda's motorcycle to get some pictures and video of our ride, but it seems she has now gotten comfortable enough to wick up the pace.
I try to go with her, all the while still eagerly snapping shots with the camera in my left hand.
Nice-Nah/Lekker! Neda is twisting the throttle like a Boosman, and I try to keep up with her!
It's a poor rider that blames his bike, but I am not getting along well with this F700GS. Maybe I haven't gotten used to it yet, but I feel like the bars are too close together and it's difficult to turn. My old R1200GS with its wide handlebars offered telepathic-like steering. It was easier with my old bike to negotiate turns with one hand and take pictures with the other.
We were in the middle of a nice flowing corner, when the road started to tighten up towards the end.
I couldn't adjust quick enough with only my right hand on the throttle! OSHIT!
My heart leapt up in my throat as I dropped the camera into my lap and tried to avoid target fixating into the ditch, focusing instead back on the direction the road was turning towards. My tires grazed the yellow line at the edge of the road and I brought the bike back in-line with two shaking hands.
Once safely back on course, I searched for my camera, expecting it to have gone bouncing down the road behind me.
Miraculously, it was still there in my lap. I scooped it up and tucked it safely in the tankbag.
"OMG, I almost crashed!", I radioed Neda ahead.
Her brakelight briefly illuminated and I could sense her gaze on me through her side mirror. "Are you okay?"
I explained what happened and she chided me for riding dangerously and told me to stop taking pictures and focus on riding instead. I sheepishly agreed.
Here's another shot I took a couple of minutes later. Hehehe...
Still hate this bike. Hate it.
With Franschhoek Pass behind us, we re-entered the outskirts of the big city.
Now that we've turned back to Cape Town for fear of missing out on good roads,
Neda points out a sign that illustrates the reason why we travel so slowly... LOL!
I don't really care. We've still got over a month left on our South African visa, I do want to make the most of it and not just rush through to the next country!
We were told that Stellenbosch, a half hour outside of Cape Town, was a pretty town to visit.
We park the bikes and walk around the white-washed Cape Dutch buildings in the city centre, looking for a place to eat
We found one fancy-looking restaurant, with a funny name: Oppie Dorp. Haha, sounds like herp derp.
Good thing we don't go into restaurants just because they have funny-sounding names.
Dinner at Herp Derp :)
OMG! So glad we ate at this restaurant with the funny-sounding name! They had a special this evening, a platter with five different kinds of game meat: ostrich biltong, kudu, springbok, crocodile tail and wild duck. It was delicious! They also recommended this nice pinotage from a local vineyard called Lanzerac.
I'm not a wine connoisseur by any means, but this is now my favorite wine. I found out that pinotages are made from grapes that only come from South Africa. It's a very sweet wine. Which is why we like it.
Wine snobs tend to look down on anyone who prefers sweet wines to dry. They call us juice-drinkers. We don't care. We love drinking alcoholic grape juice!
A great meal to top off a great day of riding!
Stellenbosch has lots of pretty-looking diners and restaurants
We hop back on the bikes and ride to a campground a few kms outside of town
This place was actually a farm run by a German couple. They were overlanding Africa with their 4x4, which I saw parked in the shed, when they decided that Stellenbosch was a nice place to settle. They just started hosting guests a couple of months ago, easing into it by targeting other overlanders, mainly Europeans to start with.
We found them on the iOverlander app, and the host told me they *just* put their place up on there. We were their first iOverlander guests!
Although they had a couple of cottages on the grounds that were newly renovated, we were only interested in a small patch of grass where we could set up our tent. But the host was so nice, he even ran in a 100-foot long extension cord from the house so we could plug in and charge all our devices inside the tent.
We settle in for a pleasant evening under the stars when the drops of rain start hitting the fly of our tent.